To anyone attending the May 7 State Board of Education meeting, one thing was very clear: the NJDOE intends for PARCC assessments to go live across the state next school year.
In her presentation about this spring’s PARCC field testing to the State Board, Assistant Commissioner of Education Bari Erlichson painted a rosy picture of the test administration. Erlichson told the board that three-quarters of the state’s districts participated in the field testing, which “ran smoothly.”
But when Board member Mark Biedron asked what percentage of students took the exams, she acknowledged that while 77 percent of districts participated, only about 10 percent of New Jersey’s school children in tested grades took the tests.
“So, we’ll be going from 10 percent to 100 percent in one year?” questioned State Board Vice President Joseph Fisicaro.
“Going to scale will be the next big thing,” replied Erlichson.
Her PowerPoint included positive tweets and quotations from news articles about the field testing. When State Board member Edie Fulton noted that Erlichson made no mention of any problems with the field testing, the assistant commissioner explained that she had to “truncate her report” for the meeting.
Fisicaro tried to question Erlichson about some of the technology issues he was aware of, but State Board of Education President interrupted him before Erlichson or Commissioner of Education David Hespe could respond.
“We have already expressed our support for the Common Core and PARCC,” Aponte said, “and we will be moving forward with their implementation.
However, legislation currently under consideration would delay implementation of PARCC, or at least mandate that it not be factored into teacher evaluation though Student Growth Percentiles (SGPs), for two years while a task force studies the issue and makes recommendations regarding the suitability and implementation of Common Core, PARCC and SGPs in New Jersey’s public schools.
Blistan, teachers testify on lack of readiness for PARCC
Later that day, NJEA Vice President Marie Blistan once again urged the State Board to give educators the time they need to meet the challenges that come with the process of moving to new standards and new tests.
“I simply do NOT understand the reasons for the rushed implementation of the PARCC test and the state’s failure to carefully think through all facets of its plan to before imposing this upon our school districts,” said Blistan.
She presented the board members with a binder of 100 letters written by teachers and parents who have serious concerns about the PARCC exams. She quoted a few of them and urged the board members to read all of them.
“You will find that all who participated in the pilot program of the PARCC are all saying the same thing: the system is full of glitches, students are struggling with a format that is unfamiliar and above their grade levels, and, in a time when schools have received less state aid than ever before, it’s an unsustainable expectation for schools to fund.”
Richardson speaks on evaluation
NJEA Executive Director Ed Richardson also spoke before Fisicaro during the “open topic” testimony session, albeit on a different topic.
The N.J. Department of Education has recently proposed changes to the regulations governing the Achieve NJ Educator Evaluation System. Richardson addressed this proposal, and while he acknowledged that it offered some positive changes, he also called it a “missed opportunity to improve the regulations.”
Richardson questioned the wisdom of adding an appeals process that undermines the legislative intent of the 2012 TEACH NJ Act and could unfairly influence a tenure charge arbitration.
“Ultimately, a local board of education, in overseeing its administrative employees, has the right to determine and even modify the merits of an evaluation by an administrator,” Richardson said. “However, [these proposed regulations] remove this right, and thus removes a teacher’s ability to turn to his or her board of education to correct an evaluation that could be wrong.”
The proposed educator effectiveness regulations are set to be adopted at the August State Board meeting.